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Missed

“You know, there used to be a schoolhouse right on this very spot.” The old man lifted his cane and drove the tip into the ground, emphasizing the spot he meant.

“Riley High School, I know.” The young woman had been standing at one end of the bench, watching a couple of children play on the jungle gym. “My grandmother told me about it.”

She cast a smile over her shoulder at the man. Something about her was familiar.

“Why, right over there where your kids are playing was our gymnasium. We had a really good basketball team back then. That gym was the site of the biggest dance in the tri-county every year. Homecoming.”

“Grams told me about that, too,” the young lady said. “Were you on the basketball team?”

“Me? No, no. I was big enough alright, but clumsy. Took all I had just to walk down the hallway without tripping up on my own feet.”

The woman giggled and stepped a little closer to the old man. A light breeze carried her perfume to his nose, and his spine tingled. She smelled familiar, too.

“But I was in the band!” He smiled, nodded, hauled himself to his feet. He was still tall and lean when he pulled his shoulders back, sucked in his tummy. He hadn’t stood there in that spot with a young lady by his side in more than sixty years, trumpet case in one hand, question on his lips.

How might life have been different if he had found his courage?

“Really? My Grams told me she had a crush on a trumpet player, but that he never asked her out. What did you play?”

The old man blushed. “Me? Oh, I played the clarinet.”

He couldn’t bear the rest of her truth.

Published inFlash Fiction

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